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Judge: Man who killed 5 as a teen to receive adult sentence

August 10, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A judge ruled Friday that a New Mexico man who shot and killed his parents and three young siblings when he was a teenager will be sentenced as an adult.

The ruling in Nehemiah Griego’s case was handed down nearly four years after he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death in the January 2013 shootings south of Albuquerque.

Prosecutors argued he had methodically plotted the rampage when he was 15, while Griego’s lawyers presented testimony describing an isolating and abusive home life for him as a teen. They also said he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Judge Alisa Hart found Griego was not amenable for treatment as a child in state facilities, a factor in her decision whether to sentence him as a juvenile or adult.

Hart recently began presiding over Griego’s case after a judge who had been overseeing it and monitoring his rehabilitation for years recused himself. New Mexico guidelines give the court considerably broad discretion in deciding Griego’s sentence, which could range from probation and time already served to decades in prison.

Griego, now 22, has been in state custody since his 2013 arrest. Authorities held him in an adolescent treatment center for years before he was eventually transferred to a local jail.

Stephen Taylor, Griego’s defense attorney, said he was hopeful that the court would allow his client to continue with his treatment and rehabilitation, where he has shown progress.

“Just because this is the ruling it doesn’t mean those things can’t happen,” Taylor said.

The case has taken years to resolve in the state’s court system amid appeals and multiple hearings. Online court records do not show that a hearing date has been scheduled yet for Griego.

The details of the 2013 shootings at Griego’s family home stunned New Mexico’s largest city, in part because of the number of fatalities, the chilling details of the crime and the ages of Griego — then 15 — and his youngest victims. His sisters Jael and Angelina were 5 and 2, and his brother Zephaniah was 9 years old.

Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputies said Griego began his January 2013 rampage in his parents’ bedroom, where he shot his mother as she slept. He then shot his brother and two sisters.

Griego’s father, a reformed gang member and pastor at an Albuquerque megachurch, was the last to die, with Griego ambushing him as he returned home, authorities said.

Two older sisters of Griego who were not at the home during the shootings said previously that they have forgiven their brother but want to see him sentenced as an adult to ensure justice for their family.

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